If you're not sure how to answer particular EFC Calculator questions, click the question marks ( ) that appear throughout the calculator. If you have more general questions about the EFC Calculator, please read the answers to these frequently asked questions.
For the latest college financing information, check out these EFC FAQs and paying for college articles.
Since you'll be asked questions about your income, assets, and debts, you may find it useful to have the following on hand:
If you're a student, you'll probably want to have a parent nearby, too.Back to top
Yes, you must provide information for each question so we can accurately estimate your EFC. The only information that is not required is the names of your family members.Back to top
You can go back to a page you've already submitted, but you cannot skip ahead. Each page is customized based on your previous answers. For example, if you indicate that there are four people in your family, on the next page the calculator provides three fields under "Student's Other Family Members."Back to top
The EFC calculator is customized according to how you answer the first questions — they determine whether the student is financially "dependent" or "independent."
If the student claims to be independent, the student's school may ask to verify answers to these questions before federal student aid is awarded. Requirements for a student to be considered independent are very strict.
Also, even if a student is considered independent, some colleges will ask for parental information when the student applies for financial aid. When you know which colleges you are applying to, check with them to determine their policies.Back to top
Financial aid is based on two eligibility calculations — the Federal Methodology (FM) and the Institutional Methodology (IM).
The FM is used to award federal and state financial aid. It is regulated by the U.S. Congress and is administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The FM takes into consideration income, assets, expenses, family size, and other factors to help evaluate a family's financial strength (unlike the IM, it does not include the value of your home). The information used for FM analysis is collected on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Though the federal government may be the largest single source of financial assistance for families, a significant amount of aid comes from the colleges themselves. The IM is used by many colleges and private scholarship programs to determine students' eligibility for their own private funds. These institutions or programs may require students to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® (PROFILE) in addition to the FAFSA.Back to top
If you're unable to provide 2016 figures, estimate using 2015 income and tax records in addition to any salary records for 2016.Back to top
If actual figures aren't available, estimate as best you can. If a question does not apply to you, enter zero — don't leave an answer blank.Back to top
When you enter numbers into the calculator, round — use whole numbers. Don't use cents or decimal points.Back to top
No, just enter the whole number. No need to enter special symbols — just numbers.Back to top
If you need to enter a negative amount — for example, if you've experienced a financial loss — please enter a negative symbol ("-") before the amount. That way we'll calculate appropriately.Back to top
Yes, if you sign-in using your College Board user name and password, you can save the information you entered into the calculator. Click "Save Info" on any page to do so.Back to top
As you're prompted for financial information, keep the following in mind:
For example, if the student lived with the mother most, answer the questions about the mother and not about the father. If the student didn't live with one parent more than the other in the past 12 months, answer in terms of the parent who provided the most financial support during that time. (Support includes money, gifts, loans, housing, food, clothes, medical and dental care, payment of college costs, etc.)
Filling out this form does not qualify you for financial aid. You must still submit the actual FAFSA, the PROFILE application if required and any other forms required by your college.Back to top
To find costs for a particular college or university:
To learn more about net price and other cost figures, read How to Get the Best Estimate of Your College Costs.Back to top
Families often assume that the amount of the EFC will be the exact amount they are asked to contribute to college costs. But this isn't always the case. The actual amount your family is expected to contribute may vary for a number of reasons, including:
If you have a specific college in mind, you can visit its website and use its net price calculator to get a more accurate estimate of what it would cost you to attend that college for one year. Learn more about net price.Back to top